If you thought Black Panther was just another super hero flick, think again. The blockbuster has expanded its reach beyond the silver and into the real lives of its college bound fans. During the recent Hollywood Reporters 2018 Women in Entertainment Gala, BP cast members Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, and Danai Gurira presented the first ever “Black Panther Scholarship”—a full-ride scholarship to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
The Black Panther Scholarship, created by Walt Disney Studios, granted 17-year-old Kalis Coleman, from THR’s Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program, the scholarship worth of $250,000. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gurira spoke words of encouragement to support female empowerment saying, “We know that if we want to live in a world that looks more like Wakanda, the first step is you invest in women and girls.” Coleman attends high school in Inglewood and plans to pursue a career as a pediatric dermatologist.
During her acceptance speech, Coleman mentioned what the award means to her as well as what it means for other young men and women who face difficulty with race or their circumstances. “I would like to thank my parents who birthed me, who made me who I am today…. I just want to stand and say this is for the girls who live in Compton, who live in Inglewood, and this is for girls and men who face adversities. I just want to say that we can do it and it is possible.”
The three actors also announced the start of the Young Executive Fellowship Program, an initiative developed to support diverse future leaders in the entertainment industry. According to CNBC, the two-year program for upper class high school students from Compton, Inglewood and Los Angeles will provide training and mentorship.
Wakanda may not be a real place, but it’s making a real difference where it counts.
By Kori A Barnes, University of Nevada, Las Vegas